Top Gun

  • Review Date: October 24, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1986

Common Sense Media says

Exciting Tom Cruise classic has some intense scenes.
  • Review Date: October 24, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1986





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Winning is the most important thing to these characters, though they also prize loyalty, friendship, and duty. While sexism is quite noticeable, two strong female characters help keep some of the objectification in check. Some relatable male friendships.

Positive role models

Maverick is cocky and cool, but he's got some depth to him, too. Charlie is a smart, tough female character.


A main character is killed during a traumatic plane crash/malfunction. A lot of fighter pilot skirmishes (including missiles/explosions) and characters in peril.


A graphic-for-its time love scene with characters shown embracing intimately in profile, but no nudity; some gratuitious use of tongue kissing. A teacher sleeps with her (adult) student. Lots of shirtless men in a beach volleyball scene. Some innuendo/references.


Several uses of "s--t," plus "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "damn," "d--khead," "p---y," "hell," "a--hole," "ass," "laid," and "oh my God."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Maverick drinks wine and then drives off on his motorcycle. Some beer drinking and cigar smoking by adults. Memorable scenes set in bars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Top Gun is a blockbuster thriller that's chock full of narrow escapes, chases, and battles -- just what older tweens and teens love to see. But parents beware: There are also some violent and upsetting scenes, chiefly the death of a main character, which make it intense for younger kids (especially in the 3-D version). There's one graphic-for-its-time sex scene, though no nudity, and in one iconic scene, there are quite a few naked male torsos on a beach volleyball court. Winning is the most important thing to all the pilots, who try to intimidate one another with plenty of posturing and banter -- though when push comes to shove, loyalty and friendship have important roles to play, too. While sexism is quite noticeable, two strong female characters help keep some of the objectification in check.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

TOP GUN centers around Maverick (Tom Cruise), a troubled, cocky fighter pilot who's one of the best in the country. When another pilot loses his confidence in a standoff with an enemy MiG, Maverick and his buddy, Goose (Anthony Edwards), get the chance of a lifetime -- to attend the Top Gun Naval Flying School in Miramar, Calif. There, Maverick meets and tries to woo Charlie (Kelly McGillis); takes on his rival, Iceman (Val Kilmer), at the flying tests; and comes to terms with the mysterious death of his father, a naval fighter pilot whose death details have been kept confidential. But can Maverick temper his loose-canon ways to win the competition -- and the girl -- and cope with the death of someone close to him?

Is it any good?


Made at the peak of Tom Cruise's career in the 1980s, Top Gun is still exciting to watch. Here, Cruise really is a star in the best sense of the word, and the film is so well directed and acted that you forget his celebrity. For all the serious drama in this film, Top Gun is also heavy on explosions and charisma. Adults of a certain age will remember how this film spawned a fashion movement of aviator glasses and bomber jackets and what a huge star Cruise legitimately was.

More than The Color of Money or the Mission: Impossible franchise, Top Gun is the film in which Cruise proved that he could play more than an arrogant jerk with a killer smile. Cruise imbues Maverick with so much warmth and depth that you can't help rooting for him.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether they believe the moral of the story: "There are no points for second place." Is winning all that matters? What would you jeopardize to win?

  • Who do you think Top Gun is aimed at, audience wise? How do you think it might be different if it had been made today?

  • Do you think it was right for Charlie to pursue a romantic relationship with Maverick?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 16, 1986
DVD release date:February 19, 2013
Cast:Kelly McGillis, Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer
Director:Tony Scott
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic intensity and mild sexuality and peril

This review of Top Gun was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written bycopperzinc April 6, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byazdesertdawg April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Teen, 13 years old Written bydavidgpsp June 10, 2009

good movie

good movie but has some inappropriate sex and it was not needed in the movie there was also some profanity

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families